In my extended family (on both sides), I am one of the youngest of my generation. By the time I came around, my grandparents were in their old age and weren't nearly as active or spritely as they once had been. My overactive toddler wiggles were just too much for them them to tolerate underfoot. So, I became well-loved by the Great-Aunts and Great-Uncles in my life. They had bath toys and bubble bath and let me stay overnight. One special weekend led to the infamous Horseradish story - maybe I'll save that for another post...
Luckily, my kids get the same special treatment from their own grandparents (who were ecstatic to become grandparents!). Shep has helped his grandfather build a house! He's the contractor for The Colbert Repair, and he has his own power tools and everything! Remember when I said that Shep was naturally spoiled, as the first grandkids on both sides of the family? Grandma Sus always has a "Grandma bag" with treats to munch on, and Grandpa built Shep a learning tower. My mother bought Shep a collapsible cot with an attached sleeping bag and pillow. And we're really just scratching the surface. Suffice to say, the kid has made out like a bandit.
Stephen recalls summers spent on his grandfather's boat and long weeks with family at Kentucky Lake. His grandparents on both sides were really active in his childhood. It's something we both value from a new perspective as parents. Yes, our parents love our kids - and we are so beyond glad that they are active parts of their lives. And yes, I won't deny that I crave and need some help - a break - from constant toddler-wrangling, from burping drooling babies. The first year of motherhood I felt possessive and territorial to the extreme. This year? Especially with two under two? I wholeheartedly welcome all the help I can get.
Their experience and willingness to step up and be our village is invaluable. I am deeply grateful that my children have such awesome grandparents (and aunts and uncles and friends!) to help guide them and mentor them. Kevin, my father-in-law, takes long walks with Shep and Rory through the forest on their property. They spy wildlife and smell flowers, and they talk about the stars and the sounds that cats make. Rumor has it that grandpa's cat is pregnant and that Shep might get to pick out one of the kittens all for himself!
I watch Shep learn from his grandparents - they practice words together and walk hand-in-hand. He gets lots of time learning to be patient and to ask kindly and mind his "p's and q's". As a two-year-old sponge, he's blessed to be able to soak up their goodness. Shep practices being helpful when he cleans up his toys and carries his own bag. Of course, he does these things for us too - but he's much more joyful about it when he sees how it pleases them. I see Rory grin her huge toothless smile at them and coo and babble at them. She falls asleep easily in their arms since she feels safe, and sleeps through the night like a dream. The moment she sees them her whole face lights up. It's like she's seeing magic for the first time, every time.
Maybe that's what grandparents are - magic. Watching their relationship bloom with my kids is one of my greatest joys. Yes, I'm sure it brings Shep and Rory joy, too. They get showered with love and attention and even gifts! And we can all rest assured that their grandparents are overjoyed! They get cuddles and bedtime stories and lots of giggles in return. But seeing it all unfold from this seat - as the mom whose kids are a delight to others? I think I've got the best seat in the house.